PINEHURST, N.C. — It is the plight high handicappers often can relate to — and professional golfers experience once in a blue moon.
Puyallup’s Ryan Moore lost control of where his golf ball was expected to go Thursday in the first round of the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club’s No. 2 Course.
Set back by five bogeys on his opening nine holes, Moore posted a 6-over-par 76 under ideal soft morning conditions.
It is the seventh time in eight U.S. Open appearances that Moore has started with an over-par round. It is also his third-highest first-round score behind a 79 last year at Merion Golf Club East Course and a 78 in 2007 at Oakmont Country Club.
Moore always found solace in something during those previous appearances. On Thursday — after three visits to Pinehurst No. 2 to ramp up his pre-tournament preparation — it all unraveled after a few holes.
“I had no control of my golf ball,” Moore said. “I was hitting it in both directions. You can’t do that out here. You can’t do that at a U.S. Open.”
He opened his tournament on the longest hole on the course — a 608-yard, par-5 10th hole — and was staring down an accessible pin on his third shot from the right side of the fairway.
But he mishit his 9-iron approach, and the ball not only landed in the front greenside bunker, but it plugged high in the face.
“I honestly deserved to be where it was at that point in time,” Moore said. “It was a perfect 9-iron (distance), and it was a bad swing.”
His fourth shot carried long and rolled to the back fringe, leading to an opening bogey.
The hole framed the rest of the day. His next drive went far left into the sandscape and wire grass, leading to a second consecutive bogey.
Even when he started hitting fairways, he was missing greens. He hit nine greens in regulation Thursday.
“I missed a lot of golf shots on that front nine,” Moore said. “I missed them in both directions, so I didn’t have one way to play for, honestly, and that is what got me. I couldn’t aim it down the left and know I was going to cut it — I might pull-draw it and hit it deep in the junk.”
The most aggravating and perhaps damaging sequence of Moore’s round came on a hole where he actually hit good shots — the downhill par-3 15th, playing 208 yards.
His tee shot landed on the front part of the green but retreated. His chip shot from in front of the green barely got over a ledge that should have sent his golf ball directly down to the hole, but it instead stopped 9 feet away.
Thinking he made a delicate right-to-left par-saving putt, he watched as it caught the left side and horseshoed out. He left with another bogey to fall to 3-over.
“I hit three good golf shots and made bogey there after hitting a bunch of bad golf shots,” Moore said. “It was frustrating at that point.”
Moore started his final nine holes with eight consecutive pars, but he bogeyed the par-3 ninth hole after hitting his tee shot in the front bunker.
He admitted after his round that he needed to shoot par or better in the second round Friday to make the cut. In 21 career rounds at a U.S. Open, he has done that twice — the first two rounds of the 2009 tournament at Bethpage Black (70, 69).
“You are still playing for pars and hitting to a certain spot on the greens,” Moore said. “If you get lucky and have a reasonable chance for birdie, then great. I missed a couple of opportunities there on the first nine. I had good looks that I could be reasonably aggressive with (on putts) and just couldn’t make them.”Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 email@example.com @ManyHatsMilles